Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives is considering the bipartisan Ukraine Support Act (H.R. 4278), introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Committee’s Ranking Member. The legislation, which passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee earlier this week, promotes Ukraine’s sovereignty and democratic institutions while sanctioning those who have sought to undermine Ukraine’s independence and stability.
Ranking Member Engel's floor statement can be found below:
Mr./Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of H. R. 4278, the Ukraine Support Act, and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
Let me begin by thanking the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ed Royce, for his strong leadership on Ukraine. As always, he worked with us in a bipartisan and constructive manner on this very important and timely bill, and I’m very pleased to be the lead Democratic cosponsor. I’d also like to thank my other Democratic and Republicans colleagues on the Committee for their important contributions.
The United States has long been a steadfast supporter of a democratic, prosperous, and independent Ukraine. And with the people of Ukraine now in dire need of assistance and under imminent threat, there has never been a more critical moment to show our support.
President Putin’s invasion of Crimea is a flagrant violation of international law and Russia’s commitments to its neighbor.
The phony and illegal referendum Putin orchestrated at the barrel of a gun has resulted in the first outright annexation of territory in Europe since the end of World War II. And now Putin is massing troops on Ukraine’s border, threatening to seize more Ukrainian territory and incite further violence and conflict.
Putin’s destabilizing and dangerous moves threaten not only Ukraine, but other states in the region, including Moldova and Georgia -- and indeed, all of Europe. The United States, our European partners, and the entire international community must take a stand against Putin’s naked aggression.
This legislation reaffirms our strong support for the people of Ukraine at this critical time. It authorizes assistance for Ukraine as it attempts to right its struggling economy, increase energy security, strengthen civil society, and prepare for democratic elections this spring. It supports Ukraine’s efforts to recover missing assets, to bolster the rule of law, and to professionalize its law enforcement. It supports additional broadcasting to Ukraine and other countries in the region to counter the dangerous and hateful propaganda coming from the Kremlin and its media outlets. And it endorses the deployment of significant numbers of international monitors throughout Ukraine to help reduce tensions and ensure the security of all Ukrainians.
The legislation also sends a clear message to Putin and his cronies that their land grab and reckless actions will have serious consequences. Specifically, it supplements the President's efforts to sanction those responsible for violating Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, looting Ukraine's economy, and violating human rights in Ukraine.
And here I would like to applaud President Obama for imposing measures which already have impacted Putin’s inner circle, for taking the lead in suspending Russia’s participation in the G-8, and for rallying support and coordinating actions with our European partners and others throughout the world.
Finally, the bill expresses support for continuing U.S. security assistance to Ukraine and reaffirms our commitment to the security of our NATO partners in Eastern and Central Europe.
Mr./Madam Speaker, the coming days, weeks, and months will be very difficult for Ukraine. Its leaders must continue the process of reconciliation and reach out to all regions of the country. They must scrupulously respect minority and human rights. And they must make the hard decisions and take the difficult steps that will return their country to political and economic health. And they must do all of this in the face of opposition and likely provocations from Putin and his cronies.
But as they do so, they and the people of Ukraine should know that they have our support. By passing this bill, we are making clear that the United States stands with Ukraine, and that we are committed to helping its people build a more democratic, prosperous, secure, and just state for themselves and their children.
I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this important legislation, and reserve the balance of my time.
Watch Rep. Engel's floor statement here: